Winchester Shot-Lok Longbeard XR Range Report
Russ Chastain 04.03.15
Back in January, I posted about Winchester’s new Shot-Lok shotshells, which promised great patterns near and far–especially far. The shot charge in these shells (currently marketed to both turkey and pheasant hunters) is encapsulated in a resin that hardens, providing the ultimate buffer to resist shot deformation even at the base of the shot column.
I fired some of these shells at the 2015 SHOT Show Range Day, but I wanted to try them for myself in my gun and at my range. So, I did.
My chosen shotgun is my late father’s well-worn Browning Superposed over/under 12 gauge. I could hunt with a modern shotgun, with screw-in chokes and 3.5-inch shells, but I don’t want to. Hunting with this old gun helps me feel connected with Dad, who toted it for many miles himself. The results below show that you don’t need a special shotgun for turkey hunting if you use the right ammo.
At ten yards, the pattern is extremely tight as expected. But let’s put it in perspective. All shots shown here were fired from the top (full-choked) barrel of a 1930s vintage over/under 12 gauge shotgun with fixed chokes and 3″ chamber. A typical 3″ shell never patterns this tightly in this gun.
The large round impact at top left was the felt wad shown in the photo at the top of this page.
This is a 20 yard pattern from a 3″ no. 4 Shot-Lok Longbeard XR shell with 1-3/4 ounces of shot. Even though it’s off-center (my old gun tends to do that, and that’s why we pattern our shotguns before going turkey hunting), it still would have annihilated the turkey.
Until Shot-Lok came along, 30 yards was my maximum range. Even though this shot was again off-center, it still put plenty of shot in this bird’s head & neck.
The above shots were fired at 40 yards. The left is no. 4 and the right is no. 5. The dramatic increase in turkey hits is a bit deceiving because I aimed a bit lower when I fired the right-hand shot.
Never before had this old shotgun consistently produced turkey-killing patterns at 40 yards.
The photos above are of the same target. It was my last target, so I fired a no. 4 and then a no. 5 at it; comparison shows which shots are new.
At extreme range, the extra shot in a no. 5 shell (right) pays off. The no. 4 shell gave me a couple good hits on the bird, but the no. 5 produced roughly nine.
This is at sixty yards, which is twice my previous maximum range! Winchester Shot-Lok Longbeard XR has effectively doubled my shotgun’s reach, which is extremely impressive. Perhaps as impressive is the fact that close-range patterns don’t suffer unduly.
I’m not fully done testing yet. I intend to try some 3″ no. 6 shells, and I will test some 3.5″ shells as well. But already I’m extremely pleased with this ammo and have been hunting with the 3″ no. 5s (STLB1235). I’d say Winchester has a clear winner here.